Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Ambush on the Nile

On a very hot Monday night the Shed reconvened for a game in the Sudan – rather apt given the weather we have been experiencing here in southern England. This time we opted to use The Men Who Would Be Kings ruleset.

The British Column snaking towards the river in the distance 

The scenario was quite simple a British Column stretched across the table marching towards the Nile at the far end. Mixed into the column were several wagons and a camel train. The British objective to escort the wagons to the shoreline. Of course nothing is that simple the column is going to get attacked by the Mahdist forces. These would enter from along the long edge and the short edge furthest away from the river.

The rear of the Column

The Forces

6 Regular Infantry Units (each 12 men strong)
1 Regular Infantry Unit (Naval shore Party (12)
1 Naval Gatling Gun
1 British Artillery field piece
3 units of regular cavalry (8 strong)

The centre


6 irregular infantry armed with obsolete rifles (12)
9 tribal spear waving warrior units (16)
2 crew served guns (captured)
5 units of tribal cavalry

View from the enemy lines 

Mark, John & Callum commanded the desert warriors and Alastair and myself the British.

We made a few minor tweaks to the rules which we believe speeden up play. Most noticeably we did not create individual leaders for each unit but instead gave each player a commander for their forces. These commanders provided a +2 boost to leadership scores and any orders/rallying roles etc. The leader would be attached to the unit he wanted to confer his bonus to. The figure gave no bonuses to combat but if the unit was destroyed so would the leader.

As you see from the pictures below the British forces were completely spread along the table with little or no cover. The natives could take fiull advantage of the hills and close quite quickly with the enemy. There was not a great deal of long range firing.

Charge - the Tribal Cavalry launch the first attack against the rear

In sizeable numbers

Crashing into the thin khaki line

A full assault across the length of the column

The plucky Brits exchange fire and seem to be holding their own

Steady volleys keep the locals pinned down

But not all the locals - waves of angry natives crash into the rear

Carnage ensues

More natives pour over the dunes

By now the head of the column is under sustained attack

Across the field the locals sweep to victory

So how did it play out – it was brutal the numbers of Mahdists (close to 2 to 1) swamped the defending Brits and it was a complete massacre. Unlike black powder where whole units remain on table until routed, TMWWBK rules remove figures once destroyed. It was rather nervy watching the British units just evaporate in the Sudanese waves of attacks.

It was great fun and despite have significant numbers of figures on the table the game played out quickly in about 2 hours. One of the main themes of shed gaming is to keep the pace going – it not only means we get games fought to a conclusion in one night but also adds a frenetic sense to the battle. No deliberating moves, measuring in advance etc

We are going to fight the same action again next week using Black Powder – forces and deployments will be the same – will we get the same outcome? Well you can read it now ...


  1. Excellent Batrep and Photo's. Not sure I would have enjoyed being the British player. That fight was brutal!

  2. 2 hours, wow! Great stuff Mr. Shed :-)

  3. You might get the same outcome, but I'm guessing you won't at those odds if the British are tooled up with firepower.

  4. Great looking game. Looking forward to the comparison with BP.

  5. Did each unit have to roll a leadship to activate?